Roundup Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Act Now!

The State Engineer is taking comments on the water permit and the Army Corps of Engineers is taking public comment through Thursday, July 9 on Great Salt Lake Mineral’s proposal to expand their fertilizer operation on the north end of the Great Salt Lake by 91,000 acres.  The proposal would affect 80,000 acres of lake and wetlands, and includes a request for an additional 350,000 acre-feet of water.  See related Salt Lake Tribune article in today’s edition of the Environmental and Sustainability Roundup (ESR).

Friends of the Great Salt Lake information page:

http://www.fogsl.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=142&Itemid=1

Send written comments to:

US Army Corps of Engineers

Jason Gipson, Nevada-Utah Regulatory Branch

533 West 2600 South, Suite 150

Bountiful, UT, 84010

E-mail comments to Jason Gipson

jason.a.gipson@usace.army.mil

G8 leaders to set emissions goals—Roger Harrabin, BBC News, 7/6/09

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8135261.stm

Harrabin says G8 leaders are set to deliver their strongest statement so far on global warming; 50 percent reduction in greenhouse gasses (GHGs) by 2050, with an 80 percent reduction for rich nations.  Human-induced temperature increases will likely be addressed, limiting increases to 2 degrees Celsius, a level considered to be a danger threshold.  The G8 will likely, however, fall short of agreeing on short term targets scientists say are necessary to ensure the 2C threshold is not crossed.  Critics say the G8 wills the ends but not the means.  American officials have privately told BBC News that they cannot cut emissions as fast as the science requires because the issue is still too politically contentious in US congress, said Harrabin.  The US may also delay G8 commitment in hopes of obtaining more commitment from emerging issues.

On Thursday, US President Obama will head a meeting of G8 members with leaders of emerging economies, including India and China, under the Major Economies Forum.  The forum will produce a separate declaration, though India opposes emissions cuts commitments, for the most part because of more prevalent poverty issues within its borders.  The 2C threshold commitment would implicitly put a limit on infrastructure growth.  While China is interested in a low-carbon economy, economic growth and infrastructure development similarly remain stronger priorities.  Brazil has signed up to the 2C threshold, suggesting their leaders are intent on communicating to their citizens that global warming is a critical issue.

Head of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) professor RK Pachauri said the Major Economies Forum held little hope for a strong climate change commitment.  Pachauri added that it would be up to the G8 to make key decisions on emissions cuts and “funding to help poorer countries to adapt to climate change and obtain clean energy supplies.”  UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown has proposed that rich countries put $100 billion into a fund to help poor countries deal with climate change, though G8 figures are currently are much lower.

Former UK premier Tony Blair, working on a private initiative with a business oriented NGO called The Climate Group, urged the G8 to establish major emissions cuts with a target year of 2020.  The Climate Groups has produced a report championing green technologies and the high potential for green job creation and growth.    The report says the technologies needed to meet such 2020 reduction goals are “already proven, available now and the policies needed to implement them known”.  Blair said halting deforestation and degradation of forests would achieve significant emissions cuts, and this could be done were rich nations to pay to protect poor nations’ forests, though difficulties were acknowledged.  Blair said almost ¾ of what is needed could come from existing and known technologies and actions.

Blair added that much has happened since the 2005 G8 summit to weaken resistance to emissions cuts commitments.  Blair was very hopeful of the current US and China administrations.  22 leading climate scientists have written to the G8 and the Major Economies Forum leaders calling for policies that would see global GHG emissions peak by 2020 and 50 percent reduction by 2050.  “Unless the burden of poverty in developing nations is alleviated,” the scientists said, “by significant financial support for mitigation, adaptation, and the reduction of deforestation, the ability of developing countries to pursue sustainable development is likely to diminish, to the economic and environmental detriment of all”.

ESR Editor’s note:  For more on the question of addressing poverty in emerging economies and impoverished economies where environmental and sustainable objectives are vital, see related story from NPR Putting a Financial Spin on Global Warming, and find Michael Shellenberger’s and Ted Nordhous’s book title Breakthrough in The Reading Room.

Putting a financial spin on global warming—Richard Harris, NPR, 6/24/09

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=105834436

“The nation that leads in the creation of a clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the 21st century global economy,” President Obama said while encouraging the US House of Representatives to pass global warming legislation.  The Breakthrough Institute’s central tenet is to promote responses to global warming as an economic opportunity rather than as a pollution problem that can be solved solely through regulation.  The institute, founded in 2002 by Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus in Oakland, California, focuses on innovation, insisting the pollution paradigm that created major US environmental policies in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s is ill suited for the global CO2 issue.

Shellenberger says regulating CO2 by forcing companies to develop cleaner alternatives goes against the historic tide.  “When was the last time,” Shellenberger said, “human beings modernized our energy sources by making older power sources more expensive?”  Shellenberger’s solution:  “we need to make clean energy cheap worldwide.”  Their recommendations include increasing federal energy research tenfold, creating a project similar to the Apollo mission to the moon.  Shellenberger points to the computer industry as an example of emerging successful technology because of deliberate federal investments.  Nordhaus and Shellenberger worked for environmental advocacy in California a number of years before joining forces and focusing on what motivates people.  “A sense of doom or shame only motivates a small segment of the public—and puts off the rest”, Nordhaus says.  Innovation, they have found, is popular among American voters, specific to the national character.

ESR Editor’s Note:  For more on Shellenberger’s and Nordhaus’s ideas, especially as they confront global environmental issues and the need to address underdeveloped nations’ economic issues, see the unfinished review of their book Breakthrough in ESR’s Reading Room.

UN, WTO call for trade shift to halt climate change—Euractiv.com, 7/1/09

http://www.euractiv.com/en/climate-change/un-wto-call-trade-shift-halt-climate-change/article-183687

Open trade could lead to growing GHG emissions if “business as usual” trade practices aren’t shifted and exchange of new low-carbon technologies is not encouraged, the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) said in a joint report published June 26th.  The report marks the first time the two organizations have explored the connections between trade and climate change.  The groups argue that international trade expansion will be coupled with greater CO2 emissions, especially due to increased transportation emissions.  Open trade could also have positive mitigation effects as well, they said.  “Opening markets will help developing countries tap into climate change technologies developed in industrialized countries,” the report contends.

Another angle suggests trade would level differences in demand and supply, shifting production of goods and services no longer feasible due to climate change commitments to importation.  The stiffest impact may be on developing countries’ competitive advantage, especially where agriculture, forestry, fisheries and tourism sectors are hardest hit by climate change.  Reduction of tariffs and other trade-distorting measures on climate-friendly goods and services are ongoing, though border measures such as import taxes on products from countries not imposing a price on carbon—designed to prevent industries from relocating to cheaper production areas to escape strict environmental regulation—still tend to remain exception-friendly.

Still, WTO case law has confirmed that WTO rules do not trump environmental requirements, WTO members say.    One concern is that climate policy could be used to disguise protectionist measures.  The WTO and UNEP are calling for a fair climate deal at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December.  Their deal would protect the most vulnerable countries as well as open trade in environmental goods and services to complement emissions reductions.

Pay more, drive less, save the planet—Gabriel Roth, Wall Street Journal, 7/6/09

Retrieved from ProQuest Newspaper Database

While US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood has said he wants to “coerce people out of their cars”, and recently introduced legislation—such as the Federal Surface Transportation Policy Act of 2009 and the Surface Transportation Authorization Act of 2009—aims to “reduce per capita motor vehicle miles traveled on an annual basis” and establish a federal “Office of Livability” that would oversee progress toward state and metropolitan gas transportation-related GHG emission reduction goals, Roth argues that reducing total miles traveled would limit the activities people want and need to do.  “People would be “coerced”, in effect, to live in less desirable places or work in less desirable jobs; shop in fewer and closer stores; see their doctor less frequently; visit fewer family members and friends,” Roth argues.

Roth offers three ways such policies could be implemented:  increasing cost of travel by raising vehicle and fuel cost; increasing travel time by capping expansion of the highway system; developing better alternatives to the private car.  Increased fuel taxes—as high as $4 per gallon—seems to Roth the most likely way.  “Allowing congestion to increase travel times would be politically easier,” Roth added.  Roth recognizes the potential in diverting road-use taxes to public transportation, but claims public transportation where available typically takes twice as long and is not practical for many Americans.  He frowns on the heavy subsidies typically required for passenger rail, subways, busses and light rail, offering a thumbs up to roads which “pay for themselves” through fuel taxes.

“Our roads would be even more self-sustaining if 20 percent of the federal fuel tax were not already diverted to public transit from the federal Highway Trust Fund,” Roth fumes.  Roth contends that Americans need to reassert their rights to their valued independence and mobility by abolishing the Highway Trust Fund, letting the states decide what roads they need and how to finance them.  The Highway Trust Fund is up for reauthorization September 30.  Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, has introduced the Highway Fairness and Reform Act of 2009, which would allow states to opt out of the federal financing system, with a companion bill introduced in the house.  Overall, Roth favors local determinations of “livability” standards rather than federal “greenhouse gas emissions reductions goals”.

Gabriel Roth is a research fellow at the Independent Institute and editor of “Street Smart:  Competition, Entrepreneurship, and the Future of Roads”, 2006.

Deconstructing the climate bill; Q & A on the mammoth House bill—David A. Farenthold, Steven Mufson, The Washington Post, 7/6/09

Retrieved from ProQuest newspaper database

The bill exceeds 1,400 pages, and loopholes and giveaways are meant to win over un-green industries and wary legislators.  The Waxman-Markey bill sets a limit on GHG emissions and gradually shrinks it.  Major emitters of GHGs—ie fossil fuel intensive businesses—would reduce emissions or buy allowances, traded on markets like commodities.  The bill would be the first economy-wide limit on GHGs in the US.  Europe has had one in place for years.

The bill will not stop climate change.  Optimally it offers a 17 percent reduction in US GHG emissions by 2020 compared to 2005 levels, a rate that may not slow the rate of climate change by much.  Energy Department projections suggest that this rate of reduction would only contribute to a 3 percent reduction globally.  Still, environmentalists argue a 17 percent cut would be a huge feat for the energy industry.  Scientists argue that much deeper cuts are required to stem the effects of warming temperatures and other climate changes.  The legislation requires 42 percent reduction by 2030 and 83 percent reduction by 2050.

EPA and the Congressional Budget Office estimates a cost of less than 50 cents per household per day.  Benefits from avoiding hard-to-calculate costs associated with accelerating climate change would suggest added value.  Conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation argues the cost will be as much as $11.78 per day, and House Republicans argue the costs will cripple the US economy and drive American jobs to countries without environmental regulations.

Costs come from higher prices for fossil fuels via cap and trade, offset by tax breaks and free allowances, new technologies, behavioral changes, and impacts on corporations and their profits.  Estimates are difficult to make due to lack of data for future changes.  Carbon capture and storage, for instance, is a largely unknown technology.

Compromises in the bill largely affected who pays the costs of cutting GHGs, while leaving emissions targets intact.  Free emission allowances for the first 10-20 years were part of the transition equation.  Especially favored are those companies and industries reliant on coal.  One innovation is the establishment of a clean-energy bank.  While Obama’s original proposal would have auctioned off 100 percent of emissions allowances, the compromise starts with but 15 percent, and doesn’t phase out giveaways until 2030.  One result is that while a full auction of carbon emission allowances would have generated $713 billion dollars for the Treasury, 15 percent will be much less substantial.

Local electric utilities that rely heavily on coal would get 35 percent or more of the allowances through 2025.  Local utility regulators would determine whether costs are passed to consumers.  The bill does have some provisions to ensure free allowances are passed on to consumers.  Homeowners have less incentive for energy-efficient home improvements.  New power plants would stand to lose big without up-to-date carbon reduction technology.  Energy intensive manufacturing—aluminum, glass and steel—would get 10-15 percent of allowances for most of  a decade, and a tariff would take effect in 2020 for goods from countries lacking carbon prices.

Rural electricity firms would get an extra $6.4 billion of allowances; ¾ of a percent would go to a half dozen independent oil refiners; major oil refiners would get 2 percent; auto makers would get 3 percent of the allowances for 6 years to cover manufacturing emissions, and an additional 1 percent for another 8 years.  Carbon capture and storage companies would get as much as 5 percent of allowances.  State governments would get 10 percent of allowances, available for sale to finance energy-efficiency activities like mass transit.  5 percent would help groups fighting deforestation in places like Brazil, Indonesia and China.

The bill’s success depends heavily on carbon offsets.  Purchased offsets allow polluters to pay for business as usual.  Overseas offsets could benefit the global environment while allowing domestic polluters to avoid expensive overhauls.  It could also encourage overseas purchase of emissions-reducing technology made in America.  The EPA has said without allowing overseas offsets, the price of domestic carbon credits could rise as much as 89 percent.  Verification of a company’s reduction of emissions overseas could be difficult.

Regulatory parts of the bill aim at cutting emissions regardless of whether the cap-and-trade program works as hoped.  New coal-fired power plants would have to emit 50 percent less CO2 than existing plants.  Plants licensed after 2020 would be held to a 65 percent reduction.  More energy-efficient building standards and the phasing out of the refrigerant hydrofluorocarbon—a strong GHG—are in the bill as well.  20 percent of 2020 electrical needs nationally would be required from renewables or energy efficiency, weaker than proposals most states have adopted.

Obama, Medvedev agree to pursue nuclear reduction—Ben Feller, AP, SLT, 7/6/09

http://www.sltrib.com/news/ci_12761613

The preliminary agreement would reduce the world’s two largest stockpiles to as few as 1,500 warheads each, Feller said.  This would be the lowest levels of any US-Russia arms control agreement.  Negotiators will use this agreement as a basis for a replacement pact for the START arms agreement that expires in December.  The agreement also commits the updated treaty to lower long-range missiles, the delivery system for nuclear warheads, to between 500 and 1,100.  Warheads would not exceed 1,675 per country.  Current treaties allow 2,200 warheads and 1,600 launch vehicles per country.  The treaty will include effective verification measures, the White House said.

Additional issues negotiated successfully included the right for the US to transport arms across Russia’s airspace for warfare in Afghanistan.  Support for other Afghan policies, for revival of a commission accounting for missing service members of both countries dating back to World War II, and fresh cooperation on public health issues were additional themes of the meeting between US President Obama and Russian President Medvedev.  The Obama administration is practicing diplomacy for upcoming issues:  pressuring Iran and North Korea to give up nuclear weapons ambitions, tackling terrorism, global warming and the global economic downturn.  Obstacles to diplomacy include a stalemate over US pursuit of a missile defense system in Europe, introduced by the Bush administration and under review by Obama.  A recent poll shows most Russians believe the US abuses its power and makes Russia do what the US wants.

Mineral firm seeks to double footprint—John Keahey, SLT, 7/5/09

http://www.sltrib.com/business/ci_12749537

Great Salt Lake Minerals, which produces fertilizer from evaporation ponds on the north end of the Great Salt Lake, wants to more than double its existing footprint to meet growing agricultural needs over the next four decades.  Per-acre-yield is driving increased call for more potassium sulfate, a company spokesman said.  The company has been in production since 1970.  The 91,000 acre proposed addition us currently under environmental review under supervision of the US Army Corps of Engineers.

Lynn de Freitas, director of Friends of the Great Salt Lake, expressed outrage at the proposal, and said Great Salt Lake Minerals is “not considering what their future can mean to the future of the Great Salt Lake ecosystem”.  Friends, several Audobon Society chapters, the Utah Waterfowl Association, Utah Airboat Association, and two chapters of the League of Women Voters have formed a coalition to fight the proposal.  A spokesman for the company argued that acreage leased to Great Salt Lake Minerals has been previously designated in the lake’s Comprehensive Management Plan as suitable for mineral activity.  While de Frietas expressed concern that such a business be aware of their responsibility as a sustainable business, even while economic interests remain at the forefront, Dave Hyams, spokesman for the company said the company had been in operation for 40 years.  “Birds have been adjacent to our ponds for decades,” Hyams said, “Co-existing with birds is something we know how to do.”

A Corps official said a decision could be issued pending outcome of the environmental review process in early 2011.  The public can submit written comment to the Corps through Thursday, July 9, and additional comment opportunities will be scheduled over the next 18 months.  So far, 1,200 letters of support, including 200 from company employees, have been filed.  Only a handful of comments opposing the expansion have been filed.  Substantive comments are most likely to have an impact.  The new evaporation ponds would affect 80,000 acres of lake water including wetlands.  An additional 350,000 acre-feet of water for processing has also been requested.  Great Salt Lake Minerals paid $4.5 million in royalties to Utah in 2008; its 20 year target for royalty payments is $100 million.  In an agreement currently negotiated with the state Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands, a trade-off would return wildlife-sensitive lands around the southern tip of Promontory Point at the north end of the lake.  Friends of the Great Salt Lake’s de Frietas expressed disappointment that the state division had already given unofficial consent for the project, rather than vigilantly protecting the public trust.

Electric cars left out in Utah’s clean-air tax credits—Brandon Loomis, SLT, 7/5/09

http://www.sltrib.com/news/ci_12749482

Utah tax credits cover factory-made compressed natural gas cars like the Honda Civic GX or the gas-electric hybrids like the Toyota Prius, and even with natural gas conversion kits.  Zero-emissions electric cars, however, are not on the list.  At issue are ‘neighborhood electric vehicles’, much like golf carts, and rechargeable by plugging into your wall socket.  Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, defended one such owner, Kanab restaurateur Victor Cooper, who filed for an $1,800 tax credit he now has to repay.  Lawmakers created the credits largely to encourage CNG passenger vehicles, and expanded the credit to include popular hybrids.  The federal government has started offering electric car tax credits of $2,500-$7,500 this year, and California-based electric car advocacy group Plug In America is pushing for tax credits in all states, and a higher gas or carbon tax to make the plug-ins more competitive.

Even after re-charging with the current mix of half-coal generated power in many states, advocates say the plug-ins generate about a third as much CO2 as a Prius.  In Utah, where the coal generated mix is much closer to 90 percent, “it’s a wash”, said reporter Brandon Loomis.  Some advocates see a benefit anyway, where CO2 and other air pollutants could be banished from cities to coal-fired power plant point sources.

ESR Editor’s Note:  The position that pollution could be banished from cities does not take into account the fact that while limiting source pollution to coal-fired power plants would take much of the current pollution away from cities such as Salt Lake City, coal-fired power plants are one of the three largest contributors to CO2 emissions globally, and more obvious pollution from these sources have an impact dozens and even hundreds of miles from emission sites.

Fungus could kill Mormon crickets—AP, SLT, 7/5/09

http://www.sltrib.com/news/ci_12758505

Utah State University is analyzing 10,000 soil samples to find the fungus similar to one already being used to control grasshoppers in Australia, Africa and South America.  Regulations prevent import.  The hope is that the fungus would be more environmentally friendly than pesticides.

Black bear killed in Utah County—SLT, 7/4/09

http://www.sltrib.com/news/ci_12756096

The bear had wandered into the Balsam campground of Hobble Creek Canyon, near where families with children were camping.  The 2 year old bear, alleged to be a repeat visitor, did not respond to rocks or yelling by the campground attendant, who shot the bear when it turned and started walking towards the attendant, after the attendant fired a warning shot.

Utah officials:  Be mindful in black bear country—AP, SLT, 7/4/09

http://www.sltrib.com/news/ci_12753654

A dozen sightings of concern have already been reported.  Biologists estimate 3,000-4,000 black bears live in Utah.  Practices like keeping camp areas clean, storing food away from tents and never feeding bears are strongly urged by wildlife officials.

Commentary

‘Self-reliant’ Westerners love federal handouts—Tom Kenworthy, SLT, 7/4/09

http://www.sltrib.com/opinion/ci_12744153

Bishop’s argument ignores facts about West—Darrell Knuffke, SLT, 7/4/09

http://www.sltrib.com/opinion/ci_12744158

Flaming Gorge water transfer plan makes no sense—Bill Sniffin, SLT, 7/4/09

http://www.sltrib.com/opinion/ci_12744158

Slow growing—Tribune Editorial, SLT, 7/4/09

http://www.sltrib.com/opinion/ci_12744165

Westminster gets gift from Great Salt Lake Minerals—Mike Gorrell, SLT, 7/3/09

http://www.sltrib.com/business/ci_12749491

In return for the $25,000 gift, Westminster will name the director’s office of the Great Salt Lake Institute after the company.  The 60,000 square foot science facility is located in the $30 million Meldrum Science Center, slated to open for classes fall 2010.  The institute will be the first dedicated to research on the Great Salt Lake, where GSLM has operated its fertilizer facilities since 1970.  GSLM is a wholly owned subsidiary of Compass Minerals.  Directed by Bonnie Baxter, the Institute will pursue collaborative ventures between higher education, industry, nonprofit groups and government agencies.  The Institute and funding are directly tied to the late Peter Behrens, one-time vice-chairman for GSLM and a college trustee for over 15 years.  The Institute may play a vital role in understanding ecosystem processes involving the lake and surrounding region that are currently unknown.  The Meldrum Science Center is slated to achieve LEED Gold certification upon completion.

Faith a driving force for Utahns in fight for clean air—Kristen Moulton, SLT, 7/3/09

http://www.sltrib.com/features/ci_12734606

Joan Gregory of the First Unitarian Church exemplifies a committed sustainable lifestyle, using the First Unitarian Church’s involvement in the Clear the Air Challenge to push herself to attain an even lower carbon footprint lifestyle.  “It’s imperative for people of faith to pay attention,” Gregory says.  “For ourselves and our children, what kind of world will we have if we are not good stewards of the earth now?”  First Unitarian Church and Holladay Church of Christ along with two other faith-based organizations—Utah Interfaith Power and Light Coalition and Multicultural Arch Foundation—entered teams in the challenge, an initiative of Gov. John Huntsman Jr., Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon, and Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker.  The initiative began June 1 and runs through July 10.  Participants set goals for avoiding vehicle trips, carpooling, walking, taking transit or trip-chaining.  Progress has been logged online.  Prizes will be given to participants who bring in the lowest carbon footprints.  Power and Light is an outgrowth of the Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable, which focuses on helping faith communities practice environmental stewardship.

Visit the challenge’s website

www.cleartheairchallenge.com

Utah Interfaith Power & Light Coalition

www.utahipl.org

The dirt on compulsory composting—Christine Dell’Amore, The Green Room, National Geographic  Green Guide blog, 06/26/09

http://blogs.nationalgeographic.com/blogs/thegreenroom/

San Francisco’s mayor Gavin Newsom signed the first mandatory composting law in the united states for consumers and businesses June 23.  The law goes into effect October 21, 2009, and is part of Newsom’s “lofty green goal” zero waste by 2020 initiative for the city.  Currently city practices keep 72 percent of recyclable material out of landfills, and convert around 400 tons of discarded food into organic compost, sold to farms and vineyards in the Bay Area.  Additional benefits include reduction of greenhouse gas methane in landfills.  Fines for failing to compost could run as high as $100.

First major carbon-trapping plant may boost green jobs—Christine Dell’Amore, The Green Room, National Geographic Green Guide blog, 6/15/09

http://blogs.nationalgeographic.com/blogs/thegreenroom/

US Secretary of Energy Steven Chu announced June 12 that the $1.5 billion plant, shelved by the Bush administration due to costs, would likely go forward with construction beginning in 2010.  The experimental coal-fired, near-zero-emissions power plant in Mattoon, Illinois would capture and store CO2 generated from the coal burning process permanently underground.  The FutureGen website boasts up to 700 ‘green’ construction jobs, and more than 100 in a permanent workforce.  Chu said the project reflects the administration’s commitment to rapid development of carbon capture and sequestration technology under a larger plan for jobs, clean energy and GHG reductions.  A June 2009 report by Pew Charitable Trusts found that the US clean energy economy grew 2 ½ times faster than overall jobs between 1998 and 2007.   $85 billion in green job funding and related projects was recently approved by the Obama administration through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  The Department of Energy said the prototype would produce at least 300 megawatts of electricity and trap at least one million metric tons of CO2 annually.  Sarah Forbes, a senior associate with the environmental think tank World Resources Institute said half of US energy and 80 percent of China’s energy  currently comes from coal.  FutureGen would address the question of whether retrofitting existing coal-fired power plants with sequestration technology would be feasible, Forbes said.

ESR Editor’s Note:  While the vilification of clean coal technology is a necessary strategy for successfully pressuring legislators to place a moratorium on additional coal-fired power plants, two significant concerns remain.  As Sarah Forbes has said, existing coal-fired power plants must be dealt with, and the ‘energy security’ issue of having sufficient baseline power for the national power grid—both in the US and China—will, barring highly innovative and competitive commercial sized alternative solutions, require that solutions be developed to confront the significant emissions of existing coal-fired power plants.

Another significant concern in the US is the issue of social justice for Native American tribes whose chance at jobs and economic justice is intricately tied to coal energy, both on the mining side and the energy production side, as with the Desert Rock Energy Project in New Mexico.  If the Navajo, for instance, are entitled as a sovereign nation to make their own choices concerning extensive coal resources and the potential to generate both jobs as well as a significant source of tribal income and infrastructure improvement, where many have no access to electricity at all, investigation of sequestration technology is a must.  Sequestration cannot, as for instance the Utah delegation might argue, become a substitute for a moratorium on new coal-fired power plants.  The global warming crisis must be addressed at this level.

G8 leaders to set emissions goals—Roger Harrabin, BBC News, 7/6/09

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8135261.stm

Harrabin says G8 leaders are set to deliver their strongest statement so far on global warming; 50 percent reduction in greenhouse gasses (GHGs) by 2050, with an 80 percent reduction for rich nations.  Human-induced temperature increases will likely be addressed, limiting increases to 2 degrees Celsius, a level considered to be a danger threshold.  The G8 will likely, however, fall short of agreeing on short term targets scientists say are necessary to ensure the 2C threshold is not crossed.  Critics say the G8 wills the ends but not the means.  American officials have privately told BBC News that they cannot cut emissions as fast as the science requires because the issue is still too politically contentious in US congress, said Harrabin.  The US may also delay G8 commitment in hopes of obtaining more commitment from emerging issues.

On Thursday, US President Obama will head a meeting of G8 members with leaders of emerging economies, including India and China, under the Major Economies Forum.  The forum will produce a separate declaration, though India opposes emissions cuts commitments, for the most part because of more prevalent poverty issues within its borders.  The 2C threshold commitment would implicitly put a limit on infrastructure growth.  While China is interested in a low-carbon economy, economic growth and infrastructure development similarly remain stronger priorities.  Brazil has signed up to the 2C threshold, suggesting their leaders are intent on communicating to their citizens that global warming is a critical issue.

Head of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) professor RK Pachauri said the Major Economies Forum held little hope for a strong climate change commitment.  Pachauri added that it would be up to the G8 to make key decisions on emissions cuts and “funding to help poorer countries to adapt to climate change and obtain clean energy supplies.”  UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown has proposed that rich countries put $100 billion into a fund to help poor countries deal with climate change, though G8 figures are currently are much lower.

Former UK premier Tony Blair, working on a private initiative with a business oriented NGO called The Climate Group, urged the G8 to establish major emissions cuts with a target year of 2020.  The Climate Groups has produced a report championing green technologies and the high potential for green job creation and growth.    The report says the technologies needed to meet such 2020 reduction goals are “already proven, available now and the policies needed to implement them known”.  Blair said halting deforestation and degradation of forests would achieve significant emissions cuts, and this could be done were rich nations to pay to protect poor nations’ forests, though difficulties were acknowledged.  Blair said almost ¾ of what is needed could come from existing and known technologies and actions.

Blair added that much has happened since the 2005 G8 summit to weaken resistance to emissions cuts commitments.  Blair was very hopeful of the current US and China administrations.  22 leading climate scientists have written to the G8 and the Major Economies Forum leaders calling for policies that would see global GHG emissions peak by 2020 and 50 percent reduction by 2050.  “Unless the burden of poverty in developing nations is alleviated,” the scientists said, “by significant financial support for mitigation, adaptation, and the reduction of deforestation, the ability of developing countries to pursue sustainable development is likely to diminish, to the economic and environmental detriment of all”.

ESR Editor’s note:  For more on the question of addressing poverty in emerging economies and impoverished economies where environmental and sustainable objectives are vital, see related story from NPR Putting a Financial Spin on Global Warming, and find Michael Shellenberger’s and Ted Nordhous’s book title Breakthrough in The Reading Room.

Putting a financial spin on global warming—Richard Harris, NPR, 6/24/09

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=105834436

“The nation that leads in the creation of a clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the 21st century global economy,” President Obama said while encouraging the US House of Representatives to pass global warming legislation.  The Breakthrough Institute’s central tenet is to promote responses to global warming as an economic opportunity rather than as a pollution problem that can be solved solely through regulation.  The institute, founded in 2002 by Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus in Oakland, California, focuses on innovation, insisting the pollution paradigm that created major US environmental policies in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s is ill suited for the global CO2 issue.

Shellenberger says regulating CO2 by forcing companies to develop cleaner alternatives goes against the historic tide.  “When was the last time,” Shellenberger said, “human beings modernized our energy sources by making older power sources more expensive?”  Shellenberger’s solution:  “we need to make clean energy cheap worldwide.”  Their recommendations include increasing federal energy research tenfold, creating a project similar to the Apollo mission to the moon.  Shellenberger points to the computer industry as an example of emerging successful technology because of deliberate federal investments.  Nordhaus and Shellenberger worked for environmental advocacy in California a number of years before joining forces and focusing on what motivates people.  “A sense of doom or shame only motivates a small segment of the public—and puts off the rest”, Nordhaus says.  Innovation, they have found, is popular among American voters, specific to the national character.

ESR Editor’s Note:  For more on Shellenberger’s and Nordhaus’s ideas, especially as they confront global environmental issues and the need to address underdeveloped nations’ economic issues, see the unfinished review of their book Breakthrough in ESR’s Reading Room.

UN, WTO call for trade shift to halt climate change—Euractiv.com, 7/1/09

http://www.euractiv.com/en/climate-change/un-wto-call-trade-shift-halt-climate-change/article-183687

Open trade could lead to growing GHG emissions if “business as usual” trade practices aren’t shifted and exchange of new low-carbon technologies is not encouraged, the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) said in a joint report published June 26th.  The report marks the first time the two organizations have explored the connections between trade and climate change.  The groups argue that international trade expansion will be coupled with greater CO2 emissions, especially due to increased transportation emissions.  Open trade could also have positive mitigation effects as well, they said.  “Opening markets will help developing countries tap into climate change technologies developed in industrialized countries,” the report contends.

Another angle suggests trade would level differences in demand and supply, shifting production of goods and services no longer feasible due to climate change commitments to importation.  The stiffest impact may be on developing countries’ competitive advantage, especially where agriculture, forestry, fisheries and tourism sectors are hardest hit by climate change.  Reduction of tariffs and other trade-distorting measures on climate-friendly goods and services are ongoing, though border measures such as import taxes on products from countries not imposing a price on carbon—designed to prevent industries from relocating to cheaper production areas to escape strict environmental regulation—still tend to remain exception-friendly.

Still, WTO case law has confirmed that WTO rules do not trump environmental requirements, WTO members say.    One concern is that climate policy could be used to disguise protectionist measures.  The WTO and UNEP are calling for a fair climate deal at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December.  Their deal would protect the most vulnerable countries as well as open trade in environmental goods and services to complement emissions reductions.

Pay more, drive less, save the planet—Gabriel Roth, Wall Street Journal, 7/6/09

Retrieved from ProQuest Newspaper Database

While US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood has said he wants to “coerce people out of their cars”, and recently introduced legislation—such as the Federal Surface Transportation Policy Act of 2009 and the Surface Transportation Authorization Act of 2009—aims to “reduce per capita motor vehicle miles traveled on an annual basis” and establish a federal “Office of Livability” that would oversee progress toward state and metropolitan gas transportation-related GHG emission reduction goals, Roth argues that reducing total miles traveled would limit the activities people want and need to do.  “People would be “coerced”, in effect, to live in less desirable places or work in less desirable jobs; shop in fewer and closer stores; see their doctor less frequently; visit fewer family members and friends,” Roth argues.

Roth offers three ways such policies could be implemented:  increasing cost of travel by raising vehicle and fuel cost; increasing travel time by capping expansion of the highway system; developing better alternatives to the private car.  Increased fuel taxes—as high as $4 per gallon—seems to Roth the most likely way.  “Allowing congestion to increase travel times would be politically easier,” Roth added.  Roth recognizes the potential in diverting road-use taxes to public transportation, but claims public transportation where available typically takes twice as long and is not practical for many Americans.  He frowns on the heavy subsidies typically required for passenger rail, subways, busses and light rail, offering a thumbs up to roads which “pay for themselves” through fuel taxes.

“Our roads would be even more self-sustaining if 20 percent of the federal fuel tax were not already diverted to public transit from the federal Highway Trust Fund,” Roth fumes.  Roth contends that Americans need to reassert their rights to their valued independence and mobility by abolishing the Highway Trust Fund, letting the states decide what roads they need and how to finance them.  The Highway Trust Fund is up for reauthorization September 30.  Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, has introduced the Highway Fairness and Reform Act of 2009, which would allow states to opt out of the federal financing system, with a companion bill introduced in the house.  Overall, Roth favors local determinations of “livability” standards rather than federal “greenhouse gas emissions reductions goals”.

Gabriel Roth is a research fellow at the Independent Institute and editor of “Street Smart:  Competition, Entrepreneurship, and the Future of Roads”, 2006.

Deconstructing the climate bill; Q & A on the mammoth House bill—David A. Farenthold, Steven Mufson, The Washington Post, 7/6/09

Retrieved from ProQuest newspaper database

The bill exceeds 1,400 pages, and loopholes and giveaways are meant to win over un-green industries and wary legislators.  The Waxman-Markey bill sets a limit on GHG emissions and gradually shrinks it.  Major emitters of GHGs—ie fossil fuel intensive businesses—would reduce emissions or buy allowances, traded on markets like commodities.  The bill would be the first economy-wide limit on GHGs in the US.  Europe has had one in place for years.

The bill will not stop climate change.  Optimally it offers a 17 percent reduction in US GHG emissions by 2020 compared to 2005 levels, a rate that may not slow the rate of climate change by much.  Energy Department projections suggest that this rate of reduction would only contribute to a 3 percent reduction globally.  Still, environmentalists argue a 17 percent cut would be a huge feat for the energy industry.  Scientists argue that much deeper cuts are required to stem the effects of warming temperatures and other climate changes.  The legislation requires 42 percent reduction by 2030 and 83 percent reduction by 2050.

EPA and the Congressional Budget Office estimates a cost of less than 50 cents per household per day.  Benefits from avoiding hard-to-calculate costs associated with accelerating climate change would suggest added value.  Conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation argues the cost will be as much as $11.78 per day, and House Republicans argue the costs will cripple the US economy and drive American jobs to countries without environmental regulations.

Costs come from higher prices for fossil fuels via cap and trade, offset by tax breaks and free allowances, new technologies, behavioral changes, and impacts on corporations and their profits.  Estimates are difficult to make due to lack of data for future changes.  Carbon capture and storage, for instance, is a largely unknown technology.

Compromises in the bill largely affected who pays the costs of cutting GHGs, while leaving emissions targets intact.  Free emission allowances for the first 10-20 years were part of the transition equation.  Especially favored are those companies and industries reliant on coal.  One innovation is the establishment of a clean-energy bank.  While Obama’s original proposal would have auctioned off 100 percent of emissions allowances, the compromise starts with but 15 percent, and doesn’t phase out giveaways until 2030.  One result is that while a full auction of carbon emission allowances would have generated $713 billion dollars for the Treasury, 15 percent will be much less substantial.

Local electric utilities that rely heavily on coal would get 35 percent or more of the allowances through 2025.  Local utility regulators would determine whether costs are passed to consumers.  The bill does have some provisions to ensure free allowances are passed on to consumers.  Homeowners have less incentive for energy-efficient home improvements.  New power plants would stand to lose big without up-to-date carbon reduction technology.  Energy intensive manufacturing—aluminum, glass and steel—would get 10-15 percent of allowances for most of  a decade, and a tariff would take effect in 2020 for goods from countries lacking carbon prices.

Rural electricity firms would get an extra $6.4 billion of allowances; ¾ of a percent would go to a half dozen independent oil refiners; major oil refiners would get 2 percent; auto makers would get 3 percent of the allowances for 6 years to cover manufacturing emissions, and an additional 1 percent for another 8 years.  Carbon capture and storage companies would get as much as 5 percent of allowances.  State governments would get 10 percent of allowances, available for sale to finance energy-efficiency activities like mass transit.  5 percent would help groups fighting deforestation in places like Brazil, Indonesia and China.

The bill’s success depends heavily on carbon offsets.  Purchased offsets allow polluters to pay for business as usual.  Overseas offsets could benefit the global environment while allowing domestic polluters to avoid expensive overhauls.  It could also encourage overseas purchase of emissions-reducing technology made in America.  The EPA has said without allowing overseas offsets, the price of domestic carbon credits could rise as much as 89 percent.  Verification of a company’s reduction of emissions overseas could be difficult.

Regulatory parts of the bill aim at cutting emissions regardless of whether the cap-and-trade program works as hoped.  New coal-fired power plants would have to emit 50 percent less CO2 than existing plants.  Plants licensed after 2020 would be held to a 65 percent reduction.  More energy-efficient building standards and the phasing out of the refrigerant hydrofluorocarbon—a strong GHG—are in the bill as well.  20 percent of 2020 electrical needs nationally would be required from renewables or energy efficiency, weaker than proposals most states have adopted.

Obama, Medvedev agree to pursue nuclear reduction—Ben Feller, AP, SLT, 7/6/09

http://www.sltrib.com/news/ci_12761613

The preliminary agreement would reduce the world’s two largest stockpiles to as few as 1,500 warheads each, Feller said.  This would be the lowest levels of any US-Russia arms control agreement.  Negotiators will use this agreement as a basis for a replacement pact for the START arms agreement that expires in December.  The agreement also commits the updated treaty to lower long-range missiles, the delivery system for nuclear warheads, to between 500 and 1,100.  Warheads would not exceed 1,675 per country.  Current treaties allow 2,200 warheads and 1,600 launch vehicles per country.  The treaty will include effective verification measures, the White House said.

Additional issues negotiated successfully included the right for the US to transport arms across Russia’s airspace for warfare in Afghanistan.  Support for other Afghan policies, for revival of a commission accounting for missing service members of both countries dating back to World War II, and fresh cooperation on public health issues were additional themes of the meeting between US President Obama and Russian President Medvedev.  The Obama administration is practicing diplomacy for upcoming issues:  pressuring Iran and North Korea to give up nuclear weapons ambitions, tackling terrorism, global warming and the global economic downturn.  Obstacles to diplomacy include a stalemate over US pursuit of a missile defense system in Europe, introduced by the Bush administration and under review by Obama.  A recent poll shows most Russians believe the US abuses its power and makes Russia do what the US wants.

Mineral firm seeks to double footprint—John Keahey, SLT, 7/5/09

http://www.sltrib.com/business/ci_12749537

Great Salt Lake Minerals, which produces fertilizer from evaporation ponds on the north end of the Great Salt Lake, wants to more than double its existing footprint to meet growing agricultural needs over the next four decades.  Per-acre-yield is driving increased call for more potassium sulfate, a company spokesman said.  The company has been in production since 1970.  The 91,000 acre proposed addition us currently under environmental review under supervision of the US Army Corps of Engineers.

Lynn de Freitas, director of Friends of the Great Salt Lake, expressed outrage at the proposal, and said Great Salt Lake Minerals is “not considering what their future can mean to the future of the Great Salt Lake ecosystem”.  Friends, several Audobon Society chapters, the Utah Waterfowl Association, Utah Airboat Association, and two chapters of the League of Women Voters have formed a coalition to fight the proposal.  A spokesman for the company argued that acreage leased to Great Salt Lake Minerals has been previously designated in the lake’s Comprehensive Management Plan as suitable for mineral activity.  While de Frietas expressed concern that such a business be aware of their responsibility as a sustainable business, even while economic interests remain at the forefront, Dave Hyams, spokesman for the company said the company had been in operation for 40 years.  “Birds have been adjacent to our ponds for decades,” Hyams said, “Co-existing with birds is something we know how to do.”

A Corps official said a decision could be issued pending outcome of the environmental review process in early 2011.  The public can submit written comment to the Corps through Thursday, July 9, and additional comment opportunities will be scheduled over the next 18 months.  So far, 1,200 letters of support, including 200 from company employees, have been filed.  Only a handful of comments opposing the expansion have been filed.  Substantive comments are most likely to have an impact.  The new evaporation ponds would affect 80,000 acres of lake water including wetlands.  An additional 350,000 acre-feet of water for processing has also been requested.  Great Salt Lake Minerals paid $4.5 million in royalties to Utah in 2008; its 20 year target for royalty payments is $100 million.  In an agreement currently negotiated with the state Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands, a trade-off would return wildlife-sensitive lands around the southern tip of Promontory Point at the north end of the lake.  Friends of the Great Salt Lake’s de Frietas expressed disappointment that the state division had already given unofficial consent for the project, rather than vigilantly protecting the public trust.

Electric cars left out in Utah’s clean-air tax credits—Brandon Loomis, SLT, 7/5/09

http://www.sltrib.com/news/ci_12749482

Utah tax credits cover factory-made compressed natural gas cars like the Honda Civic GX or the gas-electric hybrids like the Toyota Prius, and even with natural gas conversion kits.  Zero-emissions electric cars, however, are not on the list.  At issue are ‘neighborhood electric vehicles’, much like golf carts, and rechargeable by plugging into your wall socket.  Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, defended one such owner, Kanab restaurateur Victor Cooper, who filed for an $1,800 tax credit he now has to repay.  Lawmakers created the credits largely to encourage CNG passenger vehicles, and expanded the credit to include popular hybrids.  The federal government has started offering electric car tax credits of $2,500-$7,500 this year, and California-based electric car advocacy group Plug In America is pushing for tax credits in all states, and a higher gas or carbon tax to make the plug-ins more competitive.

Even after re-charging with the current mix of half-coal generated power in many states, advocates say the plug-ins generate about a third as much CO2 as a Prius.  In Utah, where the coal generated mix is much closer to 90 percent, “it’s a wash”, said reporter Brandon Loomis.  Some advocates see a benefit anyway, where CO2 and other air pollutants could be banished from cities to coal-fired power plant point sources.

ESR Editor’s Note:  The position that pollution could be banished from cities does not take into account the fact that while limiting source pollution to coal-fired power plants would take much of the current pollution away from cities such as Salt Lake City, coal-fired power plants are one of the three largest contributors to CO2 emissions globally, and more obvious pollution from these sources have an impact dozens and even hundreds of miles from emission sites.

Fungus could kill Mormon crickets—AP, SLT, 7/5/09

http://www.sltrib.com/news/ci_12758505

Utah State University is analyzing 10,000 soil samples to find the fungus similar to one already being used to control grasshoppers in Australia, Africa and South America.  Regulations prevent import.  The hope is that the fungus would be more environmentally friendly than pesticides.

Black bear killed in Utah County—SLT, 7/4/09

http://www.sltrib.com/news/ci_12756096

The bear had wandered into the Balsam campground of Hobble Creek Canyon, near where families with children were camping.  The 2 year old bear, alleged to be a repeat visitor, did not respond to rocks or yelling by the campground attendant, who shot the bear when it turned and started walking towards the attendant, after the attendant fired a warning shot.

Utah officials:  Be mindful in black bear country—AP, SLT, 7/4/09

http://www.sltrib.com/news/ci_12753654

A dozen sightings of concern have already been reported.  Biologists estimate 3,000-4,000 black bears live in Utah.  Practices like keeping camp areas clean, storing food away from tents and never feeding bears are strongly urged by wildlife officials.

Commentary

‘Self-reliant’ Westerners love federal handouts—Tom Kenworthy, SLT, 7/4/09

http://www.sltrib.com/opinion/ci_12744153

Bishop’s argument ignores facts about West—Darrell Knuffke, SLT, 7/4/09

http://www.sltrib.com/opinion/ci_12744158

Flaming Gorge water transfer plan makes no sense—Bill Sniffin, SLT, 7/4/09

http://www.sltrib.com/opinion/ci_12744158

Slow growing—Tribune Editorial, SLT, 7/4/09

http://www.sltrib.com/opinion/ci_12744165

Westminster gets gift from Great Salt Lake Minerals—Mike Gorrell, SLT, 7/3/09

http://www.sltrib.com/business/ci_12749491

In return for the $25,000 gift, Westminster will name the director’s office of the Great Salt Lake Institute after the company.  The 60,000 square foot science facility is located in the $30 million Meldrum Science Center, slated to open for classes fall 2010.  The institute will be the first dedicated to research on the Great Salt Lake, where GSLM has operated its fertilizer facilities since 1970.  GSLM is a wholly owned subsidiary of Compass Minerals.  Directed by Bonnie Baxter, the Institute will pursue collaborative ventures between higher education, industry, nonprofit groups and government agencies.  The Institute and funding are directly tied to the late Peter Behrens, one-time vice-chairman for GSLM and a college trustee for over 15 years.  The Institute may play a vital role in understanding ecosystem processes involving the lake and surrounding region that are currently unknown.  The Meldrum Science Center is slated to achieve LEED Gold certification upon completion.

Faith a driving force for Utahns in fight for clean air—Kristen Moulton, SLT, 7/3/09

http://www.sltrib.com/features/ci_12734606

Joan Gregory of the First Unitarian Church exemplifies a committed sustainable lifestyle, using the First Unitarian Church’s involvement in the Clear the Air Challenge to push herself to attain an even lower carbon footprint lifestyle.  “It’s imperative for people of faith to pay attention,” Gregory says.  “For ourselves and our children, what kind of world will we have if we are not good stewards of the earth now?”  First Unitarian Church and Holladay Church of Christ along with two other faith-based organizations—Utah Interfaith Power and Light Coalition and Multicultural Arch Foundation—entered teams in the challenge, an initiative of Gov. John Huntsman Jr., Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon, and Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker.  The initiative began June 1 and runs through July 10.  Participants set goals for avoiding vehicle trips, carpooling, walking, taking transit or trip-chaining.  Progress has been logged online.  Prizes will be given to participants who bring in the lowest carbon footprints.  Power and Light is an outgrowth of the Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable, which focuses on helping faith communities practice environmental stewardship.

Visit the challenge’s website

www.cleartheairchallenge.com

Utah Interfaith Power & Light Coalition

www.utahipl.org

The dirt on compulsory composting—Christine Dell’Amore, The Green Room, National Geographic  Green Guide blog, 06/26/09

http://blogs.nationalgeographic.com/blogs/thegreenroom/

San Francisco’s mayor Gavin Newsom signed the first mandatory composting law in the united states for consumers and businesses June 23.  The law goes into effect October 21, 2009, and is part of Newsom’s “lofty green goal” zero waste by 2020 initiative for the city.  Currently city practices keep 72 percent of recyclable material out of landfills, and convert around 400 tons of discarded food into organic compost, sold to farms and vineyards in the Bay Area.  Additional benefits include reduction of greenhouse gas methane in landfills.  Fines for failing to compost could run as high as $100.

First major carbon-trapping plant may boost green jobs—Christine Dell’Amore, The Green Room, National Geographic Green Guide blog, 6/15/09

http://blogs.nationalgeographic.com/blogs/thegreenroom/

US Secretary of Energy Steven Chu announced June 12 that the $1.5 billion plant, shelved by the Bush administration due to costs, would likely go forward with construction beginning in 2010.  The experimental coal-fired, near-zero-emissions power plant in Mattoon, Illinois would capture and store CO2 generated from the coal burning process permanently underground.  The FutureGen website boasts up to 700 ‘green’ construction jobs, and more than 100 in a permanent workforce.  Chu said the project reflects the administration’s commitment to rapid development of carbon capture and sequestration technology under a larger plan for jobs, clean energy and GHG reductions.  A June 2009 report by Pew Charitable Trusts found that the US clean energy economy grew 2 ½ times faster than overall jobs between 1998 and 2007.   $85 billion in green job funding and related projects was recently approved by the Obama administration through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  The Department of Energy said the prototype would produce at least 300 megawatts of electricity and trap at least one million metric tons of CO2 annually.  Sarah Forbes, a senior associate with the environmental think tank World Resources Institute said half of US energy and 80 percent of China’s energy  currently comes from coal.  FutureGen would address the question of whether retrofitting existing coal-fired power plants with sequestration technology would be feasible, Forbes said.

ESR Editor’s Note:  While the vilification of clean coal technology is a necessary strategy for successfully pressuring legislators to place a moratorium on additional coal-fired power plants, two significant concerns remain.  As Sarah Forbes has said, existing coal-fired power plants must be dealt with, and the ‘energy security’ issue of having sufficient baseline power for the national power grid—both in the US and China—will, barring highly innovative and competitive commercial sized alternative solutions, require that solutions be developed to confront the significant emissions of existing coal-fired power plants.

Another significant concern in the US is the issue of social justice for Native American tribes whose chance at jobs and economic justice is intricately tied to coal energy, both on the mining side and the energy production side, as with the Desert Rock Energy Project in New Mexico.  If the Navajo, for instance, are entitled as a sovereign nation to make their own choices concerning extensive coal resources and the potential to generate both jobs as well as a significant source of tribal income and infrastructure improvement, where many have no access to electricity at all, investigation of sequestration technology is a must.  Sequestration cannot, as for instance the Utah delegation might argue, become a substitute for a moratorium on new coal-fired power plants.  The global warming crisis must be addressed at this level.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s